Danswest Dance Productions' three studios host a menagerie of summer classes taught by an experienced staff of dancers and designed to cater to groups of all ages. Ballet is designed to teach correct alignment and body placement through exercises and barre work, tap classes assist students in their quests to dance out morse-code novels, hip-hop teaches the methods of popping, locking, and break-dancing in front of wall-length mirrors, and modern dance lets students express emotion and basic gestures used to hitchhike on cushioned floors. Children ages 3 1/2 to 5 can participate in preschool ballet and tap, and kids ages 5–8 can revel in the exciting world of musical theater, a genre best known for being performed by bored coal miners.
Trapezes, lyras, and slings dangle above the stage and classrooms at Zuzi!, a nonprofit organization with an affinity for the expressiveness of modern dance and the gracefulness of aerial maneuvers. The source of this passion rests within cofounder and artistic director Nanette Robinson—who is a certified Skinner Releasing Technique instructor—and radiates outward to talented teachers who lead dance classes ranging from aerial and ballet to funk. It also fills the studio’s troupe of performers who frequently pack Zuzi!’s 135-seat theater for seasonal performances, including an annual Winter Solstice Concert. Their mission also involves spreading the message of modern dance as far as possible, which is why they schedule an open aerial class during Friday happy hour and offer classes for kids as young as 4 years old.
After a life-changing car accident, Steps Dance and Fitness Studio owner Melissa Watkins thought she had lost her ability to dance for good. Through gradual exercise and her discovery of Zumba, Melissa gained a passion and appreciation for motion, which she shares with all who step onto the studio's wheat-hued hardwood floors. Instructors lead a multitude of classes that include weightlifting sessions to tone muscles and slow-paced workouts that forge the core strength needed to carry boulders to see the ocean for the first time. From beneath the raspberry walls, strains of music hint at the cumbia, merengue, and salsa tunes that fuel up-tempo dance sessions.
The biographies of the dance instructors at Danser Studio reveal a team as ambitious as it is diversely talented. The six instructors variously specialize in teaching kids and teens and developing choreography and ballet, and since they've joined Danser Studio, they've expanded their skill sets through weight training and Pilates certification. They welcome kids, teens, and adults to the sprung wood floor of a nearly 1,400-square-foot loft-like studio, where they teach fitness classes such as PowerBarre and dance styles including hip hop, classical ballet, and modern dance.
Music & Dance Academy caters to a variety of learning styles with group classes, private lessons, ensembles, and master classes for students of all ages and experience levels. Dance lessons range from parent-and-child dances to coaching for wedding dances to lessons in styles such as ballroom, ballet, and hip-hop. Music lessons help kids and adults of all skill levels learn a variety of instruments, including guitar, piano, cello, clarinet, or music theory.
Carol Sottosanti inherited her love of hitting high notes and cutting rugs from her father, an opera singer who inspired her to pursue a degree in vocal performance from the University of Arizona. Naturally, Carol wanted her children to also experience the beauty and exhilaration of performing on stage, but she couldn't find a program that would grant her kids the proper exposure and practice they needed. Teaming up with other moms in the community, Carol organized a few small shows starring the neighborhood's charismatic children, and subsequently, Kids Unlimited was born. Since its inception in 1986, KU Studios still produces shows regularly, preparing their young performers with various classes in vocal performance, dance, and acting. Aspiring triple threats can dive into a wide variety of camps designed to hone singing and dancing skills, while promoting awareness of important topics such as bullying or the proliferation of mimes in Tucson. KU's outstanding performers earn their way into small-group ensembles that perform regularly throughout the community.